A little about me:
I was raised a military brat and lived all around the US growing up. I went to Auburn University then joined the Air Force upon graduation. In the Air Force I flew B-1B bombers, T-37 and T-38 trainers, KC-135s and taught counter terrorism CQC defensive tactics for aircrews. I retired from the Air National Guard after 21 years of service. I was also an airline pilot for Midwest Airlines where I flew DC-9s, MD-80s and Boing 717s. All of Midwest's flight-crews were outsourced in 2008 and now I make my living selling art and various other jobs in the Dallas Fort Worth area.
A little about art:
Like many photographers I received my first camera as a gift at some ridiculously young age. Like many I am passionate about it to the point of obsession. I have been shooting film for 20 plus years and made the shift to the digital age a few years ago. But you have probably read similar things 100 times on various online bios.
Art is a very subjective thing. You either like something or you do not; simple as that. Photographic art seems even a bit more subjective to me. With the explosion of the digital age it seems just about anyone that buys a DSLR at Walmart calls themselves a "Fine Art Photographer." Perhaps they all are and I am not one to judge. But with that there seems to be a pervasive view that anyone with a digital camera can produce the images you find on fine art sites like this one. Another view is that all it takes is a 'really nice camera' to produce those 'really nice images.' Perhaps...
No one ever questions if a painting is art. There are certainly different levels of talent within the painting population but very rarely is it questioned as to whether it is art or not. Lets be honest; not everyone can paint well. This is every bit as true when it comes to photographic art as well. Someone either has artistic vision or they do not. If you have it, it can certainly be nurtured and enhanced but I am of the opinion that it cannot simply be taught. The technical aspects of photography can certainly be taught and are a must to offer the highest level of image quality available. The equipment photographers choose to use do nothing more than expand the limitations of our art. I have seen truly artistic images shot with an Iphone and I have seen junk produced with a $45,000 Leica. What makes something art is how we use the tools at our disposal no matter how much or little we have spent on that equipment.
That said, to produce an image that will look good as a 60 inch print hanging on your wall requires expensive equipment. My style of art also requires dedication and perseverance. While a painter might produce those images in the comfort of his or her warm living room I might get up at 2:00 AM and drive three hours then hike a mile in three feet of snow to be in the right place at the right time to capture the perfect light. The thing is that perfect light is rare and often I have to repeat that process ten or twenty times before I finally capture the scene in the beautiful light I was seeking. In other words these images cost a lot more to produce than the cost of photographic paper and printer ink.
I treat my photographic adventures as half military operation and all the planning that goes into such things and half Indiana Jones adventure and all the unexpected twists and dangers that come with that. Planning will get you on the side of a mountain cliff to get the right angle. But when that cliff is suddenly soaked by an unpredicted rain shower it is an adventure and takes some ingenuity to get off that cliff. My belt is still on that mountain side. I have stepped in quicksand, got frostbite, had chiggers and poison ivy in places where you really don't want either. I have made my way around venomous snakes and alligators. Perhaps anyone with a digital camera can produce images just like mine and there are others willing to go to extremes to get "that" image. Absolutely anyone is welcome to come with me on my adventures but it is rare that I get any takers.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the end result as much as I enjoy my adventures bringing it to you.